Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa passed away in Chennai after 75 days of hospitalisation, it was confirmed late on Monday night by Apollo Hospitals. The actor-turned-politician was readmitted to the critical care unit (CCU) of the hospital after she suffered a cardiac arrest on Sunday.
Even as the country paid homage to Amma, we rewind to over 120 films spanning over 30 years during which she graced the film industries in four languages. She was one of the top actors of her time post independence in the country.
She began her career as a female lead when she was just 15 with Kannada film Chinnada Gombe in 1964. She was talked into acting by her mother Sandhya, who was also an actor, because of the poor financial condition of their family.
In the 60s and 70s, she dominated the south Indian film industry, sharing the screen with biggest movie stars of Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.
While she was paired opposite legendary actors like MGR and Sivaji Ganeshan in Tamil, Jayalalithaa spread her wings in Telugu industry acting in over 30 movies with actors like N T Rama Rao, Akkineni Nageshwar Rao, Krishna and Shoban Babu. In fact, her first Telugu film Manushulu Mamathaluin (1965) won the National Award for best feature film.
The actress dazzled the big screen with movies from many genres including fantasy, folklore, mythologies and family dramas. While her acting prowess has been etched into the books of Indian cinema, we rewind the reel back to her time and will pause at 10 defining moments of her film career.
Vennira Aadai (1965 | Tamil)
Her first debut film in Tamil is a love triangle featuring Sreekanth and Nirmala. It was a huge commercial success for the actress and pushed her into stardom soon after. Her co-star and music director, in fact, had been called Vennira Aadai Nirmala and Vennira Aadai Moorthy after this film.
Aayirathil Oruvan (1965 | Tamil)
Jayalalithaa’s popularity hit a whole new level in the industry after Aayirathil Oruvan, which was her first film with MGR. Jayalalithaa played princess Poongodi, who falls in love with an enslaved doctor Manimaran, played by MGR. The movie was a huge commercial hit which ran for more than 100 days in Chennai and other cities. Even its digitised version, which was released in 2014, ran for 190 days.
Gudachari 116 (1966 | Telugu)
Jayalalithaa played the female lead opposite Telugu superstar Krishna and Shoban Babu in this action thriller. The movie was inspired by Ian Flemming’s James Bond series quickly became a hit. The movie was also remade in Bollywood as Farz the following year.
Izzat (1968 | Hindi)
This is her first and her last Hindi film. Jayalalithaa played a spunky Adivasi girl, Jhumki, in love with Dharmendra, who is far above her socially, in the film. Her role in the film earned her much appreciation and also showcased her dancing skills.
Deiva Magan (1969 | Tamil)
The movie, starring Jayalalithaa and Sivijai Ganesan, was an adaptation of the Bengali stage-play Ulka. It was a critically acclaimed movie and was the first Tamil film to be submitted to the Oscars.
Adimaippenn (1969 | Tamil)
Jayalalithaa’s another hit with MGR, in which she played a double role: a peasant and a queen. The movie created several box office records, by becoming the first Tamil film to complete 400 houseful shows in four theatres in Chennai.
Ali Baba 40 Dongalu (1970 | Telugu)
Under the direction of the master of Telugu fantasies Vittalacharya’s direction, Jayalalithaa played the female lead opposite NTR. The movie was based on folk tale Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves from the Arabian Tales. The movie became a super hit for its grand sets and cinematography.
Bharya Biddalu (1971 | Telugu)
Jayalalithaa worked with another stalwart of Telugu films ANR in this family drama. Following the success of this film, it was clear that Jayalalithaa was a force to be reckoned with in the Telugu film industry.
Pattikada Pattanama (1972 | Tamil)
This was another surprise hit for Jayalalithaa, which had Sivaji Ganeshan in the lead. The social drama is about the lifestyle and its associated values between a city and a village. Jayalalithaa was seen in modern attire playing a free-spirited urban girl who falls for a village leader. The film had bagged the National Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil
Sri Krishna Satya (1972 | Telugu)
This is Jayalalithaa’s second mythological Telugu film after the success of 1969 film Shri Krishna Vijayam. The actress had shared screen space with NTR, Jamuna and Devika. Jayalalithaa played a double role in the film, while NTR essayed the roles of Lord Krishna and Lord Rama.